Much has been made of the last couple of weeks that the Vikings would be better off in the long-term of the franchise if they were to lose the rest of their games. Vikings coaches and players are having none of it, because, if that happens the blue-chip pick they would have in the first round would be likely made after consultation with the new head coach and many of the players who wheezed down the stretch would quite possibly be replaced next year.
As things currently stand, the Vikings would have the fourth pick of the draft. At 3-9-1, their record is better than only Houston (2-11), Washington (3-10) and Atlanta (3-10). They still have the potential to land the No. 1 overall pick, but Houston would have to win two games for that to be a possibility – among road games at Indianapolis and Tennessee or at home against Denver. Thanks to their tie with the Packers, the Vikings likely won’t have any “who was worse” tie-breakers to deal with. It will be pretty straightforward.
The Vikings could realistically finish with the No. 2 or 3 pick because their record is only a half-game better than Washington and Atlanta. But for those who want the Vikings to lose and get a higher draft pick, what they may find more troubling is the list of teams in front of them.
Had the Vikings not blown a 16-point lead, they would be 4-9 at this point instead of 3-9-1. That tie could prove critical for those looking for a higher draft pick. As things currently stand, there are five teams with a 4-9 record – Buffalo, Cleveland, Jacksonville, Oakland and Tampa Bay. The only game that one of them should be guaranteed to win would be Buffalo and Jacksonville, who play each other today. Other than that, it’s the only head-to-head competition between those five and the potential exists that any or most of them could lose out save the head-to-head matchup Sunday.
Tampa Bay, one of the 4-9 teams, is currently in line for the No. 9 pick. The difference between No. 4 and No. 9 could be the difference between the Vikings landing the blue-chip player they get for having such a difficult season or missing out on a player that they covet heading into the draft.
If Rick Spielman is still running the show, he could be just as likely to trade down out of their spot in order to stockpile draft picks, but, if it’s a franchise quarterback they’re after, the Vikings definitely would much rather remain at No. 4 (or higher) than potentially fall to No. 9 with a couple of wins in the final three games. If they go 2-1, they likely will finish at No. 8 or higher.
The good news for those cheering for the Vikings to win is that two of their final three games will be at the Metrodome. The good news for those who want them to lose and get an elite draft spot in next May’s draft is that they’re playing three teams that are favored to win their respective divisions.
While the Vikings are looking to finish strong, two things are certain: they won’t be going to the playoffs even if they go 3-0, and every win they get from here on through is going to lower their final draft slotting. Right now, they’re at No. 4. If they finish strong, No. 9 is a possibility.
VIKINGS-EAGLES BY THE NUMBERS
The Vikings have the 14th-ranked offense (7th rushing, 22nd passing) and the 31st-ranked defense (22nd rushing, 30th passing).
Philadelphia has the third-ranked offense (1st rushing, 13th passing) and the 30th-ranked defense (15th rushing, 31st passing).
The Vikings are averaging 346 yards a game (215 passing, 131 rushing). The Eagles are averaging 409 yards a game (251 passing, 158 rushing).
Minnesota is allowing 401 yards a game (282 passing, 119 rushing). Philadelphia is allowing 398 yards a game (285 passing, 113 rushing).
The Vikings and Eagles are third and first, respectively, in yards per rushing attempt. Both teams are averaging 4.9 yards a carry, but the Eagles are hundredths of a yard ahead of Minnesota.
The Eagles are sixth in the league in takeaway/giveaway ratio at plus-9 (25 takeaways, 16 giveaways). The Vikings are tied for 26th place at minus-7 (18 takeaways, 25 giveaways).
Minnesota is 27th in red zone offense, scoring touchdowns 19 of 39 possessions (48.7 percent). Philadelphia is 29th at 46.5 percent (20 TDs on 41 possessions).
The Eagles defense is tied for fifth in the red zone, allowing touchdowns on 19 of 39 possessions (48.7 percent). The Vikings are tied for 27th at 61.5 percent (32 TDs on 52 possessions).
Only Jacksonville (55) has allowed more red zone possessions than the Vikings and nobody has allowed more touchdowns than Minnesota.
The league average on converting third downs is at 38.2 percent. The Vikings are 17th at 37 percent, converting 67 of 181 chances. Philadelphia is 15th at 37.3 percent (66 of 177).
Minnesota is 30th in red zone defense, allowing conversions on 82 of 188 chances (43.6 percent). Philadelphia is 19th at 39.9 percent (77 of 193).
The Vikings lead the league in average starting position following kickoffs at the 26.3-yard line. Philadelphia is 17th with a starting position of the 21.5-yard line. The league average is the 22-yard line.
Both teams are near the bottom on the defensive side of average starting position. Philadelphia is 29th, allowing an average start at the 24-yard line. The Vikings are 30th with an average start at the 25-yard line.
The Eagles have two 300-yard passing games – one from Michael Vick and one from Nick Foles. The Vikings have no 300-yard passing games.
Both the Vikings and Eagles have allowed five 300-yard passing games.
The Vikings have three 100-yard receiving games – two from Jerome Simpson and one from Cordarrelle Patterson. The Eagles have seven – three each from DeSean Jackson and Riley Cooper and one from LeSean McCoy.
The Vikings have allowed nine 100-yard receivers. The Eagles have allowed seven.
McCoy and Adrian Peterson each have five 100-yard rushing games to tie for the league lead.
The Vikings have allowed three 100-yard rushers. Philly has allowed just one.
There have been nine rushing games of 155 yards or more in the NFL this season. McCoy has four of them.
Despite being 34th in the league in attempts and 32nd in completions, Foles’ passer rating of 120.0 ranks him atop the NFL – 5.5 rating points ahead of Peyton Manning.
McCoy is the leading rusher in the NFL with 1,305 yards, taking the lead away from Peterson last week. Peterson is second at 1,221 yards.
Jackson is tied for 25th in receptions with 65. Greg Jennings leads the Vikings with 48 receptions, tied for 54th.
Jackson is 10th in the league in receiving yards with 1,080. Simpson leads the Vikings with 670 yards – 44th in the NFL.
Peterson is tied for sixth in scoring among non-kickers with 66 points (11 touchdowns). Jackson is tied for 16th place with 48 points (eight touchdowns).
Blair Walsh continues to climb the scoring charts. He is currently tied for eighth in scoring among kickers with 105 points. Alex Henery is tied for 22nd with 88 points.
In his first eight games, Walsh scored 54 points. In his last five, he has scored 51.
McCoy leads the league in yards from scrimmage with 1,744 (1,305 rushing, 439 receiving). Peterson is fifth with 1,390 (1,221 rushing, 169 receiving).
Marcus Sherels is fourth in the league in punt returns with an average of 13.1 yards. As has been history, the numbers don’t reflect the true impact. Sherels had an 86-yard punt return for a touchdown. On the other 38 punts he has fielded, he is tied for the league lead in fair catches with 22 and his other 16 returns have averaged 8.6 yards.
Patterson leads the league in kickoff return average at 33.3 yards per return.
Jared Allen is tied for 27th in the league with seven sacks. Eleven games into the season, Allen had just five sacks and needed five in the final five games to continue his six-year streak of double-digit sacks. He got one in each of the first two games since. He needs one today to stay on pace to keep the streak alive.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.